A Prayer for What’s Best
C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite Christian authors. It can take some thought to get the point he is making in some of this writings, but the wisdom that I gain is well worth the effort.
In Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Lewis wrote:
I come back to St. John: “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart.” And equally,”if our heart flatter us, God is greater than our heart.” I sometimes pray not for self-knowledge in general but for just so much self-knowledge at the moment as I can bear and use at the moment; the little daily dose.
Have we any reason to suppose that total self-knowledge, if it were given us, would be for our good? Children and fools, we are told, should never look at half-done work; and we are not yet, I trust, even half-done. You and I wouldn’t, at all stages, think it wise to tell a pupil exactly what we thought of his quality. It is much more important that he should know what to do next.
I like Lewis’ prayer, for just so much knowledge of my own failings and successes as God deems appropriate for my spiritual growth today. If I was aware of all that God must do to complete the good work that He has begun in me, then I would be overwhelmed and feel completely hopeless at the enormity of my need. On the other hand, if I were in one single moment to be aware of all the good that He has accomplished in me, then I might become vain and think myself better than others whose canvas is still bare.
I am like an unfinished painting, more than just the bare canvas, but not a finished work fit for hanging in God’s art gallery. My underlying sketch has been completed with Christ as its foundation, and some of the paint has been applied, but all the colors and the detail are not there. He adds a bit more color each day.
What I need and hope is for God to help me see myself as He deems appropriate. Not as He sees me, for He sees all that was, is, and is yet to be of me. If I saw myself as God sees me, that would be too much for me to bear. But I am thankful He knows what is best for me, and allows me to see just what I need.
What about you? Do you pray for God to reveal just so much of yourself as He deems best for your spiritual growth? Do you pray not to know all, but to be shown what is next? I do believe such a prayer brings peace.
“You and I wouldn’t, at all stages, think it wise to tell a pupil exactly what we thought of his quality. It is much more important that he should know what to do next.”
Love this Linda! Just to know the next step.
It is tempting to want to know more, but God does know best.
Good point about asking for just enough self-knowledge! God knows how much is too much, even if we don’t.